When the United Kingdom released its coronavirus app in early May on the Isle of Wight, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said people testing the digital tracing tool were “at the forefront of helping Britain get back on her feet.”
What a difference almost two months makes.
On Thursday, London announced it had postponed the countrywide launch of its coronavirus app so that it could be overhauled to use technology provided by Google and Apple. The U-turn follows more than two months of technical glitches, questions about the apps’ effectiveness, and doubts over whether people would even download it in the first place.
“We have agreed to share our own innovative work on estimating distance between app users with Google and Apple,” Dido Harding, who chairs the U.K. government’s test and trace program, and Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX, the innovation unit of the country’s health service, said in a statement. “Our ambition is to develop an app which will enable anyone with a smartphone to engage with every aspect of the NHS Test and Trace service.”
Harding and Gould did not give a date for when the country’s revamped app would be released, though officials said the fall would be the most likely time frame.
The decision represents a blow for Britain’s efforts to show that it is at the forefront of tackling the global pandemic.
Unlike other countries like Germany, and many U.S.